But he doesn’t carry the title of offensive coordinator. And while his role might include a lot of what the typical OC would do, you won’t hear him call himself that. That “title” for now is vacant, which seems to be fine with the fourth-year Patriots assistant who moved over from receivers coach to quarterbacks when McDaniels took off.
“I’m coaching the quarterbacks and it’s a collaborative effort with the other assistants — Dante (Scarnecchia), Ivan (Fears), Brian (Ferentz), Chad (O’Shea), Brian Flores, and obviously Bill,” O’Brien said. “We all work together and just try to determine what we have out there offensively and go to practice every day, try to accomplish certain goals every day, and that’s what we try to do. So, the role hasn’t changed.”
O’Brien, from what I know, was the play-caller last year, and he certainly looks like the coordinator out there on those practice fields. But he’s not carrying the title and, for now, he seems to be OK with it.
That led to some creative question-asking from us in the media, dancing around the fact that most everyone has the same perception of what’s going on. He did field a question about his comfort-level as a play-caller, if, indeed, he’s asked to do that in the fall.
“I’m comfortable with whatever my role is. Again, it’s a collaborative effort,” he responded. “All of us work at it – game-planning, practice planning. You all have a certain niche as far what our roles are. Whatever Bill asks me to do, I’m gonna do. So I’m gonna be comfortable with whatever he asks me to do.”
O’Brien was OC at Georgia Tech (2001-02) and Duke (2005-06), so it’s not like he’s never done it before.
And he agreed that, yes, some of the skills carry over, as a play-caller (just a part of the OC’s job, of course), from college to pro.
“I just think the organizational skills that it takes, those are the things that carry over,” O’Brien said. “Yeah, there’s some carryover. But at the same time, again, it’s just coaching the quarterbacks, working with the other assistants and making sure that the players are prepared for each practice, each game, and go from there.”
Here’s some more from O’Brien …
On his relationship with Tom Brady: “I’m going into my fourth year so I’ve been around him for a while. Even my first year, as the offensive assistant, I was involved with the quarterback position a lot. So our relationship is a strong relationship. It’s a very professional relationship. I have fun coaching him and I’m sure he has some fun playing for me at times. But it’s a very strong relationship.”
On who he models his style after: “I think I have my own style. I’ve worked for some great head coaches, obviously Bill, (Maryland coach) Ralph Friedgen, (ex-Georgia Tech coach) George O’Leary, and I’ve been around some really good assistant coaches. So I’ve learned some things from those guys. But I have my own style, that’s for sure.”
His style: “Enthusiastic. I think I’m a good teacher, and try to be very well-prepared in the meetings and come out here with enthusiasm and try to make sure these guys understand what they’re going into before they hit the field and see how we execute when we get out there. That’s my style.”
Characteristics to instill: “I think we think more about every year’s a different team. We look at who we have personnel-wise and then we go out and we try to put things together to exentuate some of new guys that we have, in addition to some of the guys that have been here for a while. We don’t really look as much at last year. The spring is a time to teach the basis of the offense and get a lot of situations covered and then head into training camp with a positive feeling on what we accomplished.”
Gains of the spring: “Offensively, I think everybody had a solid spring. I wouldn’t say the new guys looked any better than the guys that have been here. I think everybody had a productive spring. I think it’s always hard, because you’re seeing a lot from the defense, so there are gonna be ugly plays and pretty plays. But I think everybody had a positive, productive spring.“